Aussie Rocks Are In The Pink

If diamonds replaced dogs as a girl’s best friend, then pink diamonds have firmly taken over from their white, violet and blue cousins.

They’ve been around awhile but when the likes of J-Lo, Blake Lively and Victoria Beckham slide a pink on their finger, envious eyes with cash take note.

Worth around a quarter more than a regular diamond, these rosy beauties have graced the bodies of the life partners of the rich, famous and royal since they were first wrested from Western Australia’s Argyle mine in the 1980s.

But the globe’s supply of theses ridiculously beautiful gemstones or rocks as some people call them, is about to be permanently curtailed with the closure of the mine announced next year.

The mine is in the far north of Western Australia - a 42km labyrinth of tunnels up to 600m beneath otherwise worthless, scorching, hot, dry, dusty, red desert sands.

Since it opened in 1983, the mine has been a goldmine if you will for its owners, producing more than 865 million carats of rough diamonds.

Now it’s down to the last 150 carats of polished pink diamonds, say owners Rio Tinto, which means the 1.5 billion-year-old lode has run out of economically viable stones – leading to a spike in demand.

“Now it’s getting really close, it’s a matter of months. We’ve seen a big increase in demand at the moment. It seems to be just within the beginning of this year—people are more and more getting it’” jeweller John Calleija recently told Bloomberg.

For pink diamonds the effect of the closure could be huge, says Larry West, owner of LJ West Diamonds in New York. “These are the rarest diamonds in the world,” he says. “There is nothing like it, and the mine can never be duplicated.”

2019 Hero stones.
Photo Credit: Rio Tinto

Speaking about the mine’s coming shutdown, director and gemstone buyer at British luxury house Boodles, Jody Wainwright says he is “filling my boots, stockpiling whatever is possible”.

This is necessary, he adds, as part of the painstaking process of collecting and matching nuances of colour, calibration and size that gem workers weave into their masterpieces as highlights, inflections or as a contrast.

According to Rebecca Foerster, president for North America at Russian diamond miners Alrosa PJSC, the prices for pink diamonds have risen 300 per cent in the past decade.

“Since there are no other equitable sources of pink diamonds, we can expect that after the closure of Argyle mine over the next year, the market will face some shortage of pink diamonds supply,” she says.

As for where did they come from? No one knows.

While most other coloured diamonds have had their origins and causes of scintillation scientifically explained, no-one has really explained where the pink coloration comes from.

the liquid rock of the planet’s mantle causes the diamond’s lattice to be distorted, which in turn changes the way light moves through the rock.


Lead Image: Lot 1, Argyle Enigma 1.75 carat Fancy Red, radiant cut diamond.
Photo Credit: Rio Tinto

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